RECs develop new funding model
Research and Extension Center (REC) System is a key component of UC ANR (Cooperative Extension + Agricultural Experiment Station + Research and Extension Centers + Statewide Programs). Each of the nine RECs is unique and offers a wide array of opportunities to research and extension personnel within the University of California, and to our external partners. UC ANR will continue to deploy funds to support research projects. However, these funds do not go as far because salaries, benefits, and infrastructure expenditures continue to rise, while state and federal support for the Land Grant systems declines or remains flat.
To address these budgetary issues, cost increases must be offset by increasing the proportion of research costs covered by research projects. We project that approximately 25 percent of today's central funding will need to be redirected to cover increases in personnel salaries and benefits, deferred maintenance, strategic investments to ensure long-term operation of the REC system for generations to come, and increases in operating expenditures that are not included in research expenses. Increased expenses will be covered over time through a combination of fund development, increased revenue generated through increased programming and services, increased efficiency of business operations, and a reduction in the current level of research funding by UC ANR which, at present, averages approximately 80 percent across all REC supported projects.
For over a year now, we have been working to secure a bright future for the REC system by looking at the research that is conducted at each REC and considering how we do business now and in the future. In addition to the current work and programming that occurs at each REC every day, there is incredible untapped potential for new research and programs. Improved understanding of the cost to conduct research has been a key part of the review process undertaken at each of the centers over the past year. A deep dive into the accounting and cost structure has occurred at each facility; identifying the lines of service at the facility and the costs to provide those services. The FY 2018-19 cost structures for each center have been submitted to the UC ANR Rate and Recharge Committee for review this past week. Following review, the REC system will receive feedback and recommendations for changes to be made prior to rate approval.
We aim to have the full cost structures approved by late April 2018. Concurrent with the effort to identify costs for each line of service is work by each REC director to identify the level of funding that will be available in their individual budgets to reduce those costs to support research projects at each facility. We anticipate these rates will be available in late April for projects conducted in FY 2018-19 and with estimates for FY 2019-20 available at the same time.
Continuing a long tradition of supporting impactful research at each REC to solve agricultural and natural resource issues remains our highest priority. Ramp up of fund development efforts and identification of new or additional income opportunities at each REC will take time as will the ability for these strategies to offset research costs. In the meantime, the REC directors have identified that providing extra financial support to UC academics who have been in their jobs six years or less is critical to the success of new and early-career UC academics. To the extent that UC ANR funding permits, extra financial support may also be provided to support exploratory or high risk/high reward projects, projects that extend critical, under-funded, long-term research, and projects conducted by PIs who are first time users of the REC.
While the current budgeting efforts come with uncertainty and discomfort in the short-term, change is needed to secure long-term success. The leaders of each REC and UC ANR senior leaders are committed to transparency of research costs, exemplary customer service and investment into facilities and infrastructure that further our ability for sustained growth of the REC System.
Glenda Humiston, vice president
Wendy Powers, associate vice president
Tu Tran, associate vice president, Business Operations
Jeff Dahlberg, director, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Jairo Diaz, director, Desert Research and Extension Center
Jose Fernandez De Soto, director, Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director, Lindcove Research and Extension Center
Darren Haver, director, South Coast Research and Extension Center
Bob Hutmacher, director, West Side Research and Extension Center
Jeremy James, director, Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center
Kim Rodrigues, director, Hopland Research and Extension Center
Rob Wilson, director, Intermountain Research and Extension Center
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